For me the fall is an exhilarating time of year. A time of change, an in-between period of muddled and varied weather. For others who view fall as a short time before a dreary winter, fall takes on a less colorful face. Alfred Lord Tennyson uses fall metaphorically throughout “The Lady of Shalott” to illustrate how the Lady of Shalott’s life (or lack thereof) progresses.
Looking at fall at the macro level reveals that fall is a time of change. Like fall the Lady of Shalott’s life saw very little change. Until there was a very sudden and abrupt sequence of events that led to the death (or winter) of her life.
In addition viewing fall at the micro level one does not see a fixed display of weather. On the contrary, fall is made up of some clear and warm days and some cold and dismal days. This would lead to the belief that fall is neither hot nor cold, but that it is actually in the middle somewhere. In other words fall is a gray area. It is neither black nor white. A reference to this can be seen in the sixth line of stanza two when Tennyson describes The Lady of Shalott’s abode as, “Four gray walls, and four gray towers.”
Likewise three key quotes help to illustrate three different stages in Lady Shalott’s life. Tennyson characterizes the first stage of Lady Shalott’s life where she is cursed and cut off from society as cold and somber. This feeling can be seen in, “Little breezes dusk and shiver (ln. 11). The second stage of Lady Shalott’s life in which she is inspired by the knight, “The sun came dazzling through the leaves,” is convincing evidence by testimony of the leaves that there is reference to fall (ln. 75). Finally Lady Shalott’s death is metaphorically represented in, “The leaves upon her falling light,” portraying the passing of fall into winter and her life into death (ln.138).
In closing Alfred Lord Tennyson does an excellent job of using the season of fall as a hidden metaphor and insight into the life of Lady of Shalott.